Friday morning, the last day of Mississippi art colony, started off warm and balmy with the kind of sunshine that makes you happy to start the day. It was hard to believe that Colomy was wrapping up today, I felt like I was just getting in my stride.
Yesterday I started another large painting,, 50″ x 46″ and, because of my large workspace, I could set up the paintings on opposite sides of the room, allowing me to have a perspective on boh simultaneously.
I began this painting with a mix of muted primary colors, smearing them across the canvas. I added the large oval lines,drawing directly from the bottles.
I am now adding blocks of solid color. Still quite a way from finished.
Working back and forth between the paintings meant no lost time while paint dried. I was feeling the pressure as the finish loomed large. It was kind of disappointing that Colony was ending; I felt I was just coming into my stride. I guess I’m a bit of a late bloomer. Still more to go, I was able to make good headway on both before packing up to go home.
Then I went to get changed for the evening’s gala, a Black and White Ball!
Thursday is always a busy one at this art retreat. The first day is spent getting your stuff set up and then the second, one gets working but there’s a lot of socializing as well. By the third day, which is Thursday, the pressure starts to build. One realizes that you have to get them to work because there’s only one more day left after this one!
I worked steadily in order to get my elephant to come to life. It’s a complex painting and a complex problem to create a living creature within it. Using washes and glazes, I was able to push back the top of the painting and bring form to the elephant within. It’s a rare luxury for me to have a large wall on which to hang my work android work in large room where I can stand back and get a real perspective on it.
I know this piece is going to take a lot more work to finish but I feel I have a certain direction that I plan to go to with it.
Being part of Mississippi Art Colony brings with it certain responsibilities. We are charged with creating an original art trading card, known as ATC, for the guest artist, Mary Warner. The guest artist has an important role as they visit with each of the working artists, critiquing and advising on what they are creating. She also gave the presentation of her work and tonight will critique works that each artist has brought in front of the group so we may all learn from it. This is the ATC I made as a souvenir for Mary.
We were also charged to make a 12 in. square painting that is to be auctioned at the banquet on Friday night to raise money for the scholarship fund. The ATC and 12 x 12 painting were conceived on the theme of 50 shades of gray. This was a real challenge for me, as you can well imagine, since I never work in black , white or gray. Continuing to use my photographs from the recent trip to Namibia, I made this painting.
Considering I was very reticent to do this assignment, I’m pretty pleased with the results. What do you think?
On my second day of painting in Mississippi, I continued to wrangle with that giant-4 feet by 5 feet- abstract. It was a double challenge for me, not only because of the size but also because I have been painting mostly in the square format. Changing to a rectangle changes the whole way I design the painting. With the square format, it is likely that the center of interest will hover somewhere around the central third however, with a rectangular design, there can be A variety of focal points or the center of interest maybe to one side. Then it needs to be balanced with other elements of the design to make it successful. Having been away from rectangular design for quite a while makes it more difficult for me to figure it out.
As I contemplated my design, I reminded myself of the commitment I made to myself after traveling to Africa this winter, to generate a series of 20 pieces based on my experiences in Africa. I decided to work on the series with this piece by creating a large elephant to the right-hand side of the design. This is where I was at the end of the day.
Mississippi Artcolony sponsors a competition for exhibition. Each of the artists, most of whom are local and have no transportation issues, brings a piece to be juried for inclusion in the show. There is a peer award given and each of us here gets to vote on their favorite. I’ve taken some photographs of my favorite entries into this competition.
This one above is by my buddy, Cathy Hegman. A fabulous artist, she’s the reason I’m here in Mississippi.
Here I am in Mississippi! One would think it would be warm and balmy but instead it was in the mid 50s and raining. I am ill prepared for it, wearing crop pants, a light cardigan and Birkenstocks. After eating breakfast, I headed up to the outdoor pavilion where I was to set up my temporary studio. It was a tough day painting outside in the bone chilling damp but I was exhilarated to be here.
My big challenge for this week is to paint larger than I have in the past. I had a roll of canvas shipped that I figured I would tape to the wall. Luckily, one of my fellow painters had a stretched canvas that I wrapped my canvas around, making it easier to work on. When I’m done, I’ll untape it, roll it up and ship it home.
I started with acrylic ink in reds, purple and yellow. I put these inks on and started spraying so I had lots of drips. When I was happy with this and the ink dried, I continued, turning the painting 90° and adding more color. Smearing and spraying, the canvas was a kind of grid of color. This is what it looked like at the end of the day, still very much a work in progress.
I shared the space with several other artists. Here’s a peek at what they were working on today.
Check back tomorrow to see how I’m progressing.
I spent all day yesterday trying to get organized for my trip down to Utica, Mississippi,just outside the state capital, Jackson, for my week at Mississippi Art Colony. Airline restrictions and charges meant I had to get all my tools and equipment- paint, brushes, knives, masks, drawing materials, etc. – into one suitcase.
It’s an exciting prospect to spend the week painting, with other painters, not having to worry about the demands of daily life but getting there can be harrowing.
The trip takes the better part of the day, flying first into Atlanta”s giant Hartsfield Airport,
then changing to a slightly smaller plane on to Jackson. I was picked up by another artist, also an out of towner, but one with Mississippi roots.
I know that I am the only artist; here from the North. This gives me a certain unearned noteriety and I guess my home makes them conjure up assutions about me, just as I have about the South. Hearing the lilting female tones make announcements takes me immediately to the stereotype of vapid voices, sultry and seductive. This is a solid group of artists and the environment will be stimulating.
After our hard winter, it was a welcome sight to see the orchards of pecan trees and honeysuckle profusely growing at the side of the road.
Checked in and so it begins. I will share with you my process and insights as the week progresses.
Traveling in Africa, we see lots of giraffes. I love the way they look and how they move. Imagining how they see things, I realize they have a specific, unusual perspective on the world.
Here are a few more photos of my tall friends.
Sometimes you get a good shot from an unfortunate perspective.
It’s a long way down for a giraffe to reach the water. Because the animal’s neck is so long, when it drinks, the blood rushes to its head, away from its heart, giraffes can only drink for limited time.
When we spotted giraffes on our drive, they seemed to be watching us as we watched them.
On our very long flight home, I couldn’t sleep so I decided to work on a painting. Here is my painting in progress.
I look forward to finishing my red giraffe.
My husband, Gary, and I met up with the rest off our group, a delegation from Books For Africa, a US NGO that sends over 3 million books to Africa each year. We went to visit schools and libraries, to talk to the people and find out what they need.
We traveled to Malawi to see it first hand. The people in Malawi are desperately poor. They are all struggling. But the National Library of Malawi has a terrific distribution system and has been getting the books all over the country to folks who need them.
This student-or learner, as they are called- is Esther. She wants to be a nurse.
The people are warm and friendly in Malawi and the children enthusiastic and lovely. Here are some pictures of children we met.
On my husband, Gary’s birthday, we went with friends from Books For Africa to the clinic of Project Hope, a charity he supportedin Africa for 4 months last year. He made many friends there, particularly the director of this site, Ntombe.
Ntombe was kind enough to give us a tour of the slum that her clinic serves. We entered the community of lean-to houses set on dirt roads, dusty with the heat. They were built of castoff materials, often topped with a roof of corrugated aluminum. Frequently the slums are home to more than 1 million people
In this case, there was only one school in the whole community, looking just as ramshackle as the worst of them houses there. Ntombe explained that most of the children went to town for private school. I was amazed when she explained that if someone had a job as a cleaner, they would take the children to work and have them go to school there. Sometimes employers would send the children with their own. It is hard to imagine that even the poorest of the poor will not send their children to public school. Like parents everywhere,these people want their children to have better lives than they. All over Africa it is understood that education is the ticket.
We stopped in Soweto to visit the Mandela House but it was closed. While Soweto was famous as Mandela’s house and as a Black township during apartheid, it now seems a thriving suburbia with lots of commercial activity and nightspots. We relaxed for a celebratory drink and, while we were there, I snapped this woman looking oh so dramatic. />
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Africa, Books For Africa, children, clinic, education, Johannesburg, Project Hope, red, slum, South Africa, Soweto
Hello dear readers and happy new year!
I know I’ve been out of touch for a while but I was in the throes of leaving the continent for Africa and I’ve had a terrible time getting Wi-Fi since I’ve been here. We flew from New York JFK to Johannesburg South Africa nonstop in 15 hours. WHew, was that a long haul! When my husband, Gary and I arrived , we were picked up by a friend we made last year. She rescued us from the chaos of that airport and our travel, and took us to her lovely home in a “small holding” between Johannesburg and Pretoria. A small holding constitutes 15 acres a little further out than suburbia. Sandri and Chris have a fantastic home that has a high, thatched roof that went up to stories inside and then two wings of their home that have their own thatched roofs inside the house.
K My friends ‘ beautiful home.
One of the 31 Nguni cows that my friends have for breeding.
Pebbles, my favorite!
They inhabit their property with their two college age daughters, 4 dashound dogs, a dove that they rescued when it fell out of its nest and 31 head ofNguni cows that they keep for breeding. Nguni cows are really beautiful coming in a variety of colors and patterns ranging from white to brown to black and even to shades of pink in large patches and dappled variegated skin.
While I’m not usually a dog person, having grown up with cats, I grew very fond of their dogs. My favorite was Pebbles.
I Will be sending you updates on my trip as regularly as I am able while traveling through southern Africa. The Wi-Fi here goes from poor to sporadic. I’ll be sharing my adventures on this journey, as well as the art work I’ve done along the way.
Posted in travel, Uncategorized
Tagged Africa, architecture, breeding, cows, Dashounds, dogs, friends, friendship, Johannesburg, Nguni, Pretoria, South Africa, thatched roof, travel
Thank you for sharing my journey this year. I hope you are enjoying the holidays and that 2015 brings all things good into your life.